Twitter Applauds as England beaten by USA in semi-final

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England’s dreams of reaching their first Women’s World Cup final were dashed as Steph Houghton’s late penalty was saved in a dramatic semi-final loss to holders the United States.

The England skipper’s 84th-minute spot-kick was held by Alyssa Naeher, shortly before Houghton’s fellow center-back Millie Bright was sent off for a second bookable offense, as the Lionesses exited at the last-four stage for a third major tournament in a row.

Winger Christen Press and striker Alex Morgan scored with headers either side of Ellen White’s instinctive equalizer as the USA took a deserved 2-1 lead in a frenetic first half.

A spirited Lionesses side improved after the break and White thought she had equalized with a low strike from Jill Scott’s flicked through ball, only to be found to be marginally offside on a video assistant referee (VAR) review.

White was then clipped in the area and Phil Neville’s side was awarded a penalty after another VAR review.

But Houghton could not convert from the spot and the wait for a senior England side to reach a first global final since 1966 goes on.

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The USA, who was backed by the majority of the 53,512 crowds in a gripped Stade de Lyon, are through to their third consecutive World Cup final and will now bid for a record fourth title when they face either Sweden or European champions the Netherlands on Sunday.

2019 FIFA Women's World Cup Bracket
2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Bracket.

After winning the invitational SheBelieves Cup in the USA earlier this year, victories over Scotland, Argentina, and Japan saw them top Group D in France, as belief grew that they could win their first major trophy.

Consecutive 3-0 victories over Cameroon and Norway in the knockout stages followed, but Neville’s side was unable to play with the same composure on the ball against the confident defending champions.

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England came under intense pressure in the early stages and may have been slightly relieved to be only 2-1 down at half-time after the lively Rose Lavelle twice went close for the holders.

England had the better of the second 45 minutes and was rewarded with a late chance to level when Becky Sauerbrunn made contact with White’s shooting leg when the Manchester City striker was poised to tuck home.

However, Houghton’s penalty was weak and Naeher saved low to her right – the third spot-kick out of four England have missed in this tournament.

Two minutes later Bright was dismissed for a second yellow card for a clumsy foul on Morgan.

Some of the devastated England players sank to the ground in despair as the final whistle extended their wait for a first major title.

Pre-tournament favorites the USA, who have reached at least the semi-finals of every Women’s World Cup, will now contest their fifth final.

After narrow 2-1 win over Spain and hosts France in their past two games, they showed their experience and clever game-management to see out a third consecutive win by the same scoreline.

USA boss Jill Ellis: “I can’t even express how proud I am. It was such a great effort from everybody. Everyone stepped up, and that’s what this team’s about.

PARTY LIKE IT’S 1776 because we’re going to the #FIFAWWC FINAL!!!!

“That was her [Alyssa Naeher’s] shining moment. We have one more game. I couldn’t be prouder of this group. We have four days this time in between, so that will help.

“I told them [in a post-match huddle]: ‘Stay humble. We’ve got one more.'”

England off the spot – the stats

  • USA become the first side to reach three consecutive World Cup finals – they played Japan in 2011 and 2015.
  • USA set a new World Cup record of 11 successive wins with victory, beating Norway’s previous mark of 10 in a row (1995-99).
  • Steph Houghton is only the second player to miss a penalty in a World Cup semi-final. Both misses have been against USA, also Germany’s Celia Sasic in 2015.
  • England’s Millie Bright became the fourth player to be sent off at the World Cup.
  • Christen Press’ opening goal ended England’s national record run of 381 minutes without conceding at the tournament.
  • The USA has never lost a World Cup game they have scored first in, winning 36 and drawing four.
  • Ellen White is only the third player in World Cup history to score in three consecutive knockout games, after Carli Lloyd (2015) and Abby Wambach (2011).

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